Friday, December 28, 2007

Outer Continental Shelf Reserves Estimates

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the United States was first defined in 1953 when Congress enacted the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) defining the shelf as all submerged lands lying seaward of coastal states, up to three miles offshore. Under the OCSLA, the stewardship and protection of these areas of valuable resources was made the responsibility of the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior was given authority to accept or deny leases for drilling and exploration of the shelf; decisions that could be made based on responsible, environmentally safe procedures, or primarily on highest bid alone, with discretion left up to the Secretary. The Secretary also was given responsibility for the formation of necessary regulations and protective implementations in order to assure the health of the shelf for future mineral harvesting while maintaining a beautiful shoreline for tourists and indigenous wildlife inhabitants alike.

In 1982, Congress and the Secretary of the Interior, James G. Watt, extended the responsibility of shelf management to a branch of the Department of the Interior, the Minerals Management Service. The MMS as part of their duties has periodically funded surveys by top geologists, projecting and estimating the true wealth and abundance of minerals and fossil fuel supplies encased beneath the surface of the continental shelf. The latest assessment of these resources was based on information from new exploration techniques administered in 2003; the statement was released in 2006.

The Mineral Management Service’s newest estimates take under consideration the limits of current technology but also take into account the foreseeable developments of new technology as well when presenting their estimated findings. What the MMS does not include when developing their findings is allowances for economic feasibility or financial profitability limits; their findings just state the facts of what amounts of resources are present, not limited by the financial investments needed to extract those resources. The latest estimates detail that the OCS could feasibly contain anywhere from 66.6 to 115.3 billion barrels of oil and from 326.4 to 565.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These large estimates have undoubtedly affected new bill proposals currently being discussed within the Senate concerning decreasing the drilling limitations currently in place. The wealth of these supplies is constantly being weighed against the potentially hazardous effects of drilling and exploration upon the picturesque American seashore. Large oil companies such as Triple Diamond Energy Corp. are implementing new and improved methods of extraction that yield large amounts of fuel supplies without subjecting the fragile landscape to undue stresses caused by overdevelopment.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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